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Argentina Debates Intelligence Reform (Al-Jazeera America)

One week after the mysterious death of a state prosecutor who had accused the government of a major crime, the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced one of her government’s most sweeping policy reforms to date. She wants to dissolve the country’s Intelligence Secretariat (SI) and replace it with a new organization. Lawmakers and advocates have been trying for years to overhaul Argentina’s intelligence services but could never buck the entrenched institutional order. Now that the president is involved, the government has called for a special session of Congress to debate her proposal, and a Senate vote is expected Thursday.

Opposition parties, however, have refused to attend hearings on the law and vow to boycott the vote; they have decried the reform effort as the self-serving project of a beleaguered president. “The government is proposing a change in name only,” said Manuel Garrido, a congressman from Buenos Aires. “All the government’s doing is taking attention away from the Alberto Nisman case,” he added, in reference to the dead prosecutor.

Last month Nisman accused the president and her foreign minister of covering up a recent government agreement struck with Iran to protect suspects in a 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The perpetrators of the attack have never been brought to justice, and state-led investigations have crumbled because judges and prosecutors with close ties to the intelligence community have repeatedly been charged with corruption.

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